Smith’s mistake is in assuming that this is some new trend.
Looking at this list of the most popular movies of each year since the beginning of cinema, we can see a lot of animated Disney movies on that list.
Snow White, Pinnochio, Bambi, the embarrassingly racist Song of the South, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
These were all the #1 movies the year they were released. And that’s just the animated films. Add in the live-action Disney family films and you’ve also got Swiss Family Robinson, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music.
Children alone cannot account for that level of popularity. Adults liked these films, too.
Then there are the action films that, while not necessarily targeted at children, have (it seems to me) about the same intellectual value as your standard modern superhero film: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Terminator 2.
So yes, I think Smith was right to express a concern that his views are nothing more than “perennial fogeyism.” Because that’s all his concerns amount to.
Reading over his piece, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would extend that same sneering rebuke to literature.
What would he make of adults reading Alice in Wonderland? The Wizard of Oz? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? These are treasured works of literature which no adult should be ashamed of reading, even if they were written with children in mind as their target audience.